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‘Joint instructions for expert witnesses’ appeared in this week’s Law Society gazette. Former NHS Litigation Authority head Steve Walker addressing the annual conference of expert witnesses ahead of the Jackson reforms (which come into effect in April 2013) predicted that more joint instruction of experts will need to take place. Current practice sees Claimant and Defendant obtaining their own expert evidence but bringing costs down will very soon be the order of the day. It was suggested that most corporate Defendants did not review reports in enough detail or ensure they fully understood what the evidence was saying whilst Claimant solicitors would also have to be mindful of the issues of proportionality of costs of obtaining expert evidence in the new era of litigation. A proposed ‘Portal System’ is likely to start to operate for medical negligence claims under £25000 from next year. Similar to that in place already for RTA claims it will mean fixed costs for medical negligence solicitors for the lower value claims.
Comment: It is not necessarily the case that medical negligence claims even those of lower value will have less complex issues of medical evidence than their higher value counterparts which could mean that evidence is not fully explored by experts. Whilst the proposed Portal should be able to cope with low value cases some will inevitably be denied access to justice because of their complexity of their claim.
The medical negligence team at Michael Lewin has recently moved to a new branch office off Street Lane in Roundhay North Leeds. Together with the Employment team the move took place in late September 2012 with the intention to allow the departments to be able to grow into their new surroundings. From their new base the medical negligence team hope to be able to build on their current team and expertise and to continue to deliver the highest levels of service to both new and existing clients.
Ross McWilliams qualified as a solicitor on 1st August 2012 and will join the experienced Clinical Negligence team at Michael Lewin. Ross has previously worked as a paralegal at the firm since April 2009 and then as a trainee solicitor from January 2011. He will be handling a wide range of clinical negligence claims and is currently building up his caseload. He has a particular interest in claims involving orthopedic surgery and errors as a result of abdominal surgery.
Emma Hudson is currently training with the Medical Negligence team having started with Michael Lewin in July 2010 following completion of her LPC at BPP in Leeds. Emma has so far undertaken seats in RTA and Criminal Injuries and intends to do a further seat in Employment law before qualifying in September 2013. On qualification Emma hopes to specialise in medical negligence work and has already begun to build up her case load in this area.